McKee, state leaders to hold COVID-19 briefing at 9:30 am

LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee and state leaders are scheduled to hold a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday morning as the state continues to see a spike in new cases.

The briefing will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Northern Lincoln Elementary School. 12 News plans to stream it live right here on WPRI.com.

The R.I. Department of Health reported 733 new positive cases on Tuesday, which is the highest daily count since January. Another five people have died and 155 people are hospitalized, which is about 50 more patients than at the beginning of November.

During the briefing, McKee is expected to discuss the new Omicron variant. On Monday he told reporters the state will approach it the way they did with the Delta variant.

“Let’s find out, let’s make sure we understand the nature of this new strain, and then we’ll respond to that accordingly to make sure that we keep the safety as our top priority in the state,” McKee said.

Due to the new variant and the arrival of the holiday season, state leaders are urging people to get vaccinated, or get a booster dose which is available to everyone 18 and older.

As of Tuesday, 73.5% of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated, with nearly 83% at least partially vaccinated.

The governor will also likely be asked about a proposed vaccine incentive that would give some state workers $3,000 bonuses for getting the shot. Some lawmakers have criticized the proposal, which is set to be voted on next week.

State officials are also expected to provide an update on the state’s “test-to-stay” program, which is designed to prevent students from missing class due to quarantine. It has been piloted in Westerly where students who are are a close contact can take rapid antigen tests.

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